Most African migrants do not leave the continent but end up settling in other countries, with Kenya remaining a firm favourite for those looking for a new home.
In addition, Africa contributes a smaller percentage of migrants than the rest of the world.
A new report released by Italian Institute for International Political Studies shows that far from the perceptions that Africa continues to pour the bulk of migrants to the West, the images of Africans arriving in Europe in rickety boats do not tell even half the story of migration in Africa.
“In spite of an overall acceleration of Africans’ extra-continental migration and of a growing diversification of their destinations, a large majority of sub-Saharan migrants do not actually leave Africa.
“Most of them typically travel only short distances and as many as two-thirds settle in other countries in the wider region,” the report says.
People largely prefer to settle close to home because going farther out would be strenuous.
This therefore debunks the other myth that the African migrants who make it into Europe are the poorest and most destitute of the bunch.
On the contrary, the ones who end up in Europe are often of a higher socio-economic status and have the skills to make a living.
“Populations of the least developed countries are less able to move, and tend to migrate over shorter distances when they do… actually, the countries with a higher level of extra-continental migration correspond to the relatively more ‘developed’ countries, that are located on the coast, that have a higher level of urbanisation, a higher GDP per capita, and that are more advanced in the demographic transition,” the report observes.
The numbers of emigrants has remained constant, despite rising economic, environmental and political pressures that have made movements necessary for survival.
“Migrants remained a relatively stable share of the sub-Saharan population, around 2.5 per cent between 2000-2015.
“This is down from 3.2 per cent back in 1990 and is lower than the 3.3 per cent share of the world’s population that migrants represent at a global level.”
Despite the popular “Africa is rising” narrative, the reasons for migration remain the same as they were before: poverty and hardship, political strife, climate change shocks, brain drain among others.
However, this is not to say that the continent has not developed, with the report pointing out that Africa has seen some key transformations and growth in its economies, technology, infrastructure and politics, and a marked decrease in poverty from a high of 57 per cent in 1999 to 41 per cent in 2013.
However, due to population growth, the actual number of poor people has gone up by 100 million, and the positive changes have not reached many of the people at the bottom of the food chain, hence necessitating inter-continental movements amongst the most vulnerable.
The report comes in the wake of what has been referred to as the “European migrant crisis”, a term referring to the growing number of people making their way into Europe to escape strife in their countries.
Consequently, European countries have become hostile, with many sealing off their borders